Pre-Employment Drug Tests Were Not Medical Examinations Under ADA, Federal Court Holds

The prohibition in the Americans With Disabilities Act against pre-offer medical examinations doesn’t include testing for illegal drugs, a federal district court in Pennsylvania ruled on Sept. 15.

Whether the drug screening is really a medical examination–and thus illegal under the ADA prior to an offer of employment–depends on what the employer’s intent was in conducting the screening, the court said.

If an employer’s intent is to determine whether applicants were using illegal drugs, then the screening is not a medical examination under the ADA.

The drug screen at issue in this case did not reveal whether or not an applicant was taking a lawfully prescribed medication, the court found.

In 2014, the court held that the employer’s practice of conducting pre-offer physical examinations violated the ADA, and even applicants hired after undergoing the examinations might have an action under the ADA for the pre-offer examinations.

The case is EEOC v. Grane Healthcare Co., W.D. Pa., No. 3:10-cv-250, Sept. 15, 2015.

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